Why assumptions might be stopping you change career

HelenChange up your career / life2 Comments

There are many reasons cited for sticking with a job that’s lost all its joy. Finances, logistics, the fact that there is a teeny bit of flexibility (better the devil you know and all that) or the timing just isn’t quite right. And loads of them are completely valid. However, there’s another factor which could be at play – are incorrect assumptions actually the thing stopping you change career?

I remember a catch up I once had with my business mentor.

The conversation went like this:

“I don’t feel like I am making fast enough progress and I’m frustrated by that. I want my business to grow, to have a bigger impact. I mean, it is, but I feel like I’m missing something, like other people are doing it so much better.”

(Magic beans anyone?)

“Hmm o.k, so who is doing it much better?”

“Well, lots of people in here (speaking about other entrepreneurs on the programme I was on at the time) work on their own, seem to have all this exciting expansion going on and are making tons of money, so I must be doing something wrong.”

“How do you know what money they are making?”

“Well, because they all have these great businesses and so they just must be…”

“Again, how do you know what money they are making?”

“Erm, well, I don’t.”

“And how do you know if their businesses are meeting their goals, fulfilling their personal needs, making a difference?”

“Urm.”

I realised that I’d been making HUGE assumptions and told myself this lovely, long story that was pretty much entirely self-fabricated. I’d been surrounded by people doing their own thing and sometimes that was hugely inspiring, but some of it had led me down that crazy comparison spiral.  And all of that was actually slowing me down, making me lose focus, stopping me from doing things my own way.

Stop making assumptions

Why is it that we make these assumptions, we fill in the gaps, we jump to our own conclusions, often ones that aren’t particularly kind to our own good selves?

And I know it happens all the time.

We see the mum who is in the playground, looking immaculate wearing heels with a full face of makeup, and assume she is off to work clearly nailing the work-life balance thing by being there for the school run AND no doubt being some director of some amazingly creative company.

We don’t consider that she might be off to a job interview in order to try and pay the mortgage.

We see the mum with a baby and a toddler walking down the street looking serene and calm and assume we must be doing something seriously wrong on the parenting front because our toddler can’t be trusted to walk for ten seconds without legging it off towards the nearest danger. Not having seen the major tantrum that happened five minutes earlier.  

We see another woman in work nailing a great pitch and assume that if indeed she does have kids then she must have loads of extra help, or never see them (errr, maybe she’s just really good at presentations?!)

Making inaccurate assumptions

We talk about assumptions and the stories we might be telling ourselves that aren’t true on Game Changers (our course for women wanting to make changes in their career) because these seemingly small snippets of information can actually have pretty big consequences.

Perhaps that’s assuming that others are better qualified than us to go freelance – so we’ll probably not get any work. We’d be better off sticking with the job that is destroying our soul (this blog post shares why freelancing can actually be a great option for parents).

Assuming someone else has a great business idea or will have already done the thing we have been dreaming of doing for years, so it’s probably not worth looking into. Oh yes, look, there’s already one child friendly coffee shop in Milton Keynes so that means it’s already been done (???).

Assuming there is no money to be made in a certain industry. Assuming it is safer to stay working for someone else rather than work for ourselves (not necessarily). Assuming we won’t be able to make a specific sideways move with our current employer because no-one else has done it previously. Assuming our other halves, if in a partnership, wouldn’t want to apply for flexible working so we could set up our lives differently.

Assuming someone able to work all the hours god sends will go for that promotion so it’s pointless applying. On this last point I’m not naïve by the way, I know finding flexible roles is a very real problem and valid concern, but I also believe that we have to keep knocking on the doors and asking the questions or that won’t ever change.

Making comparisons

I’ve honestly had lots of conversations with women holding back on even signing up to the Game Changers course because they assume others will be joining with more of an idea of what they want to do next (DEFINITELY not true).

Here’s a quick exercise to go through if you think that you might have fallen into the trap of making assumptions when it comes to your next career change. Find someone else to have this conversation with, our own minds are pretty good at tricking us otherwise.

Finish the following sentence:

“I can’t make the change to my work situation that I’d like to right now because _______________________”

Then ask yourself:

Q. Is this true or am I making an assumption?

Q. What actual evidence do you have to prove that it is true?

Q. If you’re not sure, then how could you find out?

And finally, if you realise that you ARE making an assumption, go and discover the truth. Ask more questions and challenge that voice in your head that might be telling you it’s not possible.

If you want some more help with asking these sorts of questions, others to have these conversations with, and support on working on gaining the right mindset for making all sorts of changes to your career (be that a full career change, changing parts of your role, going for that promotion, adjusting your working patterns) then join us on 29th April when we start the next intake of Game Changers again.

Don’t assume it’s not for you, it really can be. x

2 Comments on “Why assumptions might be stopping you change career”

  1. Brilliant stuff Helen and something we all do ALL the time right? I know I do especially in this crazy online world we live in a lot of the time – we believe the stories we tell ourselves whether they are serving us or not. xxx

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